Four Israelis killed in stabbing attack in Beersheba, terrorist shot dead

Attack was third stabbing this week | Bedouin-Israel attacker had been arrested in the past for supporting ISIS.

 Scene of stabbing attack in Beersheba, March 22, 2022 (photo credit: MEIR EVEN HAIM)
Scene of stabbing attack in Beersheba, March 22, 2022
(photo credit: MEIR EVEN HAIM)

Four Israelis were killed on Tuesday in a terrorist stabbing attack at a shopping center and gas station in Beersheba, with a number of others injured in the attack.

Large forces from the police and Magen David Adom (MDA) arrived at the scene to treat the victims who were pronounced dead after being evacuated to the nearby Soroka Hospital.

The terrorist was identified as Muhammad Alab Ahmed abu Alkiyan, a Bedouin-Israeli from the town of Hura who had served time in Israeli prison.

Alkiyan was arrested in 2015, along with a number of other suspects, for supporting and promoting ISIS to students at the school where he was a teacher.

 Police Chief Kobi Shabtai holds a briefing following the Beersheba terror attack that left four dead, March 22, 2022 (credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) Police Chief Kobi Shabtai holds a briefing following the Beersheba terror attack that left four dead, March 22, 2022 (credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

According to police, the terrorist ran over a man riding on a bicycle before driving to a gas station, exiting the vehicle and stabbing a woman. He then returned to the car, drove to a nearby shopping center, exited the car and stabbed another man and a woman. He then returned to the vehicle, drove away and crashed into another vehicle, exiting the vehicle and stabbing another person before being shot and killed by a civilian passerby.

Police arrested two of the attacker's brothers, who are suspected of having seen him leaving the house with a knife. Although the police believe he acted alone, it is investigating whether the brothers were aware of his intentions.

One of the victims was named as Doris Yahbas, a resident of Moshav Gilat, on Tuesday evening. Yahbas left behind her husband and three children. Her funeral will take place on Wednesday in Moshav Gilat. The family is asking that the media respect their privacy and not report from the funeral.

The second victim to be identified, Moshe Kravitsky, was a Chabad emissary in the Nachal Beka neighborhood of Beersheba and for ten years had run a local soup kitchen. 

The third victim, Lora Yitzhak, was the sister of a police officer who was on his way to the scene of the attack. 

The forth victim, Menachem Yehezkel, 67, local resident of Beersheba. His nephew, Natti Cohen, told Arutz Sheva reporters, "he was a good man, this is a terrible tragedy."

Beersheba mayor, Reuven Danilovich, said that the "security measures in the city will be increased, as well as near educational institutions."

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai arrived at the scene after the attack, telling reporters that there was no warning before the attack. The Shin Bet has reportedly joined the investigation.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed condolences to the families of the victims, saying "the civilians who shot the terrorist showed resourcefulness and courage and prevented further casualties." Bennett added that security forces were on high alert and that the state would operate with a heavy hand against terrorists and those assisting them.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked expressed condolences to the families of the victims, saying "a vile and subhuman terrorist murdered innocent people." Shaked saluted the civilians who apprehended the terrorist, saying that they should receive recognition for their brave actions.

"The IDF and the security forces will take and will use all means to prevent terrorist incidents as much as possible," said Defense Minister Benny Gantz, adding that the defense establishment is on high alert in all sectors and will "make sure that whoever encourages the recent attacks or supports them - will pay a price."

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, saying "anyone who tries to harm innocent civilians should know that the State of Israel will lay its hands on him and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Negev Bedouin authority leaders issued a statement condemning the attack, saying "Violence is not our way and we completely disapprove of any violence and extremism."

"At the same time, we call on our Jewish brethren not to be led by the uproar of extremists in Jewish society and not to generalize from what happened today to the whole of Bedouin society," said the leaders. "What the stabber did today hurts and wounds all the residents of the Negev, both Jewish and Bedouin."

The Ra'am party condemned the attack and sent condolences to the families of the victims, saying "the Arab citizens of the state are law-abiding and denounces anybody who uses violence against other citizens."

"Ra'am calls on all citizens to maintain the common and delicate fabric of life, to show responsibility and to promote a tolerant discourse at this difficult time," added the party.

The Joint List condemned the attack, stressing that it "strongly opposes any harm to innocent civilians."

"Do not let the just struggle against discrimination and discrimination in the Negev slide into such acts. The Joint List has called and continues to call for a non-violent public and political struggle," added the party, stressing that the attack must not be allowed to spark incitement and violence against the Arab population.

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh expressed shock at the attack, saying "violence is not our way and we must condemn it with all our might."

"My heart goes out to the families of those killed in this difficult time, and I wish a speedy recovery to the wounded," said Odeh.

The Hadash party - a part of the Joint List - condemned the attack saying "the way of violence is not the way of the Arab public in general and the Negev in particular, and is not part of the just struggle of the Negev Arabs against the dispossession and oppression."

"We already hear the instigators intend to use the tragedy to ignite a racist fire and lead to violence against Arab citizens. They must not be allowed to exploit the murder of innocent people to lead to more violence," added the party.

The Hura Municipality also issued a statement condemning the attack.

"Harming innocent citizens is a criminal and despicable act of terror," the statement read. "The municipality calls on all residents of the Negev, Arabs and Jews alike, to maintain the good relationship they have had until now," it added.

President Isaac Herzog responded to the attack on Tuesday evening as well, saying "the heart is torn and pains as innocent souls pay the bloody price of hostility and hatred. Terrorism will not overwhelm us or undermine our right to exist in our country."

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu called for "immediate action" to apprehend all those responsible for the attack, saying "Bennett and Lapid must ignore any political considerations and immediately take care of the capture of the terrorists and the restoration of security for the residents of Beersheba and the south."

Religious Zionist head Bezalel Smotrich stressed that "nationalist extremism among Israeli Arabs is a ticking time bomb," calling for the government to use a "heavy hand" and "zero displays of understanding and zero tolerance." Smotrich promised to "do everything to restore governance and personal security to the citizens of Israel."

Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanou welcomed the attack, saying "the crimes of the occupation are met only with heroic stabbing, ramming and shooting operations." Tuesday was also the anniversary of the assassination of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist movement congratulated the attack, saying "the operation comes in the natural context of responding to the crimes of Zionist terrorism in the occupied Negev."

The PIJ had published a statement earlier on Tuesday expressing outrage at the intention of Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben Gvir and other right-wing activists to form "Sayeret Barel," a civilian militia to protect Jewish Israelis in the Negev.

Ben Gvir originally announced the formation of Sayeret Barel in December. The PIJ called the militia a "dangerous escalation," saying that it would "not discourage the Jihad movement from performing its duty to resist the occupation and respond to the aggression."

This is the third stabbing this week.

On Sunday, two police officers were injured in a stabbing attack in east Jerusalem's Ras al-Amud neighborhood.

On Saturday, a 35-year-old man was stabbed and lightly wounded on Hebron Road near the First Station in Jerusalem.